How to avoid filling up landfills if you want to get rid of unwanted stuff

Bulging closets and shelves stacked with outdated electronics plague some households, but a D. C-area-based consumers’ group has advice for getting rid of unwanted stuff.

Don’t just toss electronics in the trash.

“You should actually be really careful about how you get rid of old electronics. They contain a nightmarish mix of toxic materials. You don’t want them in landfills; you need to make sure that they’re taken in by a responsible recycling outfit,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Checkbook.org.

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition has numbers of sites in the area that can be searched for by ZIP code. The office supply store Staples does tech recycling.

For just general “stuff,” the Buy Nothing Project is an online community where people can post anything they’d like to give away or share. People also can ask for anything they’d like to borrow or receive for free.

There’s Freecycle.org too. The nonprofit website is a forum for people to give away items they don’t need or want to others that do.

IT company Securis hosts monthly electronic recycling events in the D.C. area.

What do you do with your old specs?

Fashionistas who change eyeglass frames frequently can donate them to help needy people who can’t afford them.

The Lions Club has a partnership with Walmart that lets you deposit eyeglasses at any participating Walmart Vision Center. The Lions Club also collects hearing aids.

As for old wedding dresses, ball gowns or prom dresses, there are places, such as
Becca’s Closet, that gets donated items to people who can’t afford to buy finery.

“You know, we’re all trying to do our part here to waste less and to have less put into landfills. When people are out there looking to take and use stuff that means something new didn’t have to be manufactured for them and that saves a lot of energy and raw materials,” Brasler said.

Through a special arrangement with the nonprofit Washington Consumers’ Checkbook, WTOP readers can have a look at all Checkbook ratings and price comparisons for a limited time.

Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services is an independent nonprofit consumer organization founded in 1974. It has for more than 40 years been an innovator in providing information to help consumers make smarter choices.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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